Transparency in Digital Political Advertising | Rising to the Top

September 4, 2018

After Labor Day, the 2018 general election season kicks into high gear. Likewise, momentum continues to build in digital and social channels regarding transparency markers for political ads.

Just last month, Google announced a weekly archive of U.S. political ads on its platform, reported here. Earlier this spring, Twitter shared its own policy on political ads in a blog post, and Facebook also shared recent developments, reported here.

The broader digital ecosystem is taking action as well, focused on the DAA’s announcement earlier this summer of an industry-wide initiative to increase transparency and accountability around digital political ads. The DAA’s new guidance for political advertisers will feature a “Political Ad” icon that will link to additional information on such ads.

Building on the success of the DAA’s existing YourAdChoices program, the DAA’s new “Political Ad” icon will serve as an immediate, simple, and intuitive tool for people to get information on the political ads covered by the new guidelines. Information available through the PoliticalAd icon will include the political advertiser’s name, contact information, contribution or expenditure records (when applicable), individual contacts and other required disclosures.

All these efforts are aimed at “express advocacy” campaigns – paid-for communications that unmistakably urge the election or defeat of one or more clearly identified candidate(s) for a federal or statewide election. With the mid-terms coming in early November, this is timely.

For those ads that include a call to action for or against a candidate’s election (contender or incumbent), we expect the same type of transparency we’ve achieved online for digital interest-based ads – through the YourAdChoices program.

For the purposes of bolstering consumer trust and voter engagement, that would be a great outcome. Stay tuned for that and for a way to register to use the DAA’s PoliticalAd icon for free.


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